Good Bookkeeping and How to Recognize It

Whether you’re looking for a new bookkeeper or reevaluating your existing one, you need to know what characteristics to look for to determine the quality and longevity of the potential partnership. What constitutes good bookkeeping? Is it defined by the number of years of experience, or saying “yes” to everything you ask? Or is it more than that? Knowing how to recognize good bookkeeping allows you to set certain expectations and hold your bookkeeper accountable. It also prepares you to make better decisions when choosing what kind of bookkeeper you want to partner with.

Here are seven essential qualities to look for in a good bookkeeper:

  1. Excellent communication skills
    Possessing good communication skills doesn’t just mean speaking clearly. It’s about being able to explain complex ideas in easy-to-understand ways, proactively following up on tasks, asking important questions about your business, and really listening to what you have to say. If your bookkeeper regularly uses accounting and bookkeeping jargon, the conversations you have can feel restricted and unproductive. Look for someone who’s willing to communicate key concepts at a pace you’re comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

  2. Adept at accounting software and new technologies
    When bookkeepers utilize the latest business software and technologies, it’s an indication that they’re committed to increasing efficiencies and providing a more robust service. If your bookkeeper knows how to leverage accounting software and other kinds of business software to streamline things like invoicing, payments, and payroll, you’ll know how every aspect of your business ties into the other – operationally and financially.

  3. Organization and teamwork
    Having stellar organization skills is basically a prerequisite to becoming a bookkeeper. But what about organizing a team and building a sense of unity? Do you feel like you and your bookkeeper work independently, or do you consider them a part of your crew? And does your bookkeeper have their own team of experts that work together to provide the best service for your business? These are some critical questions to ask yourself when you’re thinking about how you can get the most out of your bookkeeper.

  4. Experience in your particular industry
    Working with a bookkeeper who has expertise in, let’s say, the health and wellness industry would be very different than working with one who has tons of experience with retail. Good bookkeepers may specialize in a particular field or industry to be able to offer sharper services with a more informed approach. They can also provide reports on how your business is performing month-to-month, and have an idea of what success metrics look like in your industry.

  5. Integrity
    No one likes shady people – especially if you have to work with them. If your bookkeeper isn’t transparent with things like billing and pricing, or if they’re unresponsive, or if you’re constantly questioning what kind of value they’re adding to your business, maybe it’s time to call it quits with them. And if you’re looking for a new bookkeeper, be sure to have a thorough interview process, and ask hard-hitting questions to sniff out any crookedness as early as possible.

  6. Flexibility to adapt to different working styles
    Does your business have unusual operating hours? Or perhaps you only prefer to communicate via email. Maybe you’ve got a CPA but still need a bookkeeper for day-to-day operations. Whatever your situation might be, finding a bookkeeper who’s willing to be flexible with your working and communication style can make for a dynamic business partnership.

  7. Relationship building skills
    Finding a good bookkeeper needn’t be difficult. But when you do find one, you probably want to stick to them. Do they have good people skills that make you want to build a long-term partnership with them? A solid bookkeeper understands the value of every business relationship and will work to deliver high-quality services to ensure that expectations are met, if not exceeded.


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